Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground when there is no bait in it? Does a trap spring up from the earth when it captures nothing at all? If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?
But does he? (Note: the author is not John Piper, but it is his website, which articulates his views.)
One person explains: “It is clear to me that nothing can occur apart from God’s decree. Anything that happens occurs only because he has either decreed to allow it or causes it directly. So when the Scriptures say, ‘does not from my hand come both blessing and calamity... I am the LORD who does all these things,’ I believe he is telling us that neither blessing or calamity occurs apart from his decree.”
Why a “decree”? Yes, blessing and calamity does come from God, but it comes from God contingently (rather than a decree), exactly as stated in Jeremiah 18:1-13.
God’s governance is of a conditional nature, in that if men will repent, He will relent. God is patient because He does not want anyone to perish. That is the longsuffering nature of God.
Calvinist, J. Vernon McGee, comments: “This means, my friend, that there is no such thing as an accident in the life of a child of God. Therefore must be a cause for the effect. God is not moving this universe in a foolish, idle manner. Therefore, when calamity strikes, there is a lesson to be learned from it. ... Amos asks seven questions which illustrate that for every effect there is a cause and that the judgment of God which is coming is not accidental but is a result caused by the sin of the people.” (Thru the Bible: Proverbs Through Malachi, p.696, emphasis mine)
Dave Hunt explains: “God is warning Israel of His coming judgment upon their sin, and that is the context and subject. This Scripture has nothing to do with God causing moral evil. To do so would violate His holiness.” (Debating Calvinism, pp.312-313)
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains: “God may cause the disaster or natural evil (suffering) of a city or people who have rejected him. When God withdraws his protective presence, evil starts pouring in. But it doesn’t say that He caused the sin which led to God’s withdrawing Himself and thus causing evil. We must distinguish sin from suffering--two kinds of evil.” (SEA)
Indeed, Amos 3:6 is not talking about moral evil, but about calamity & judgment, and there are similar passages which reflect this, such as Isaiah 45:1-7, as shown below. The problem is that some “High Calvinists” will use this from the standpoint of Confirmation Bias, in order to prove what they’ve already concluded, as they seem to want (or need) a God who has a darkside, in order to rationalize a “sovereign God” in a “fallen world.”
Here is a similar passage:
Isaiah 45:1-7: “Thus says the Lord to Cyrus His anointed, whom I have taken by the right hand, to subdue nations before him and to loose the loins of kings; to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: ‘I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, The Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. For the sake of Jacob My servant, and Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor though you have not known Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.’”
Jeremiah 18:8: “If that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it.”
In other words, “causing well-being and creating calamity” implies God’s judgment.
In Calvinism, God meticulously causes the “sin and evil” of Dependent Agents, in order to arrive at a particular good, whereas with Arminianism, God simply uses the “sin and evil” of Independent Agents to bring about a particular good. Therefore, “sin and evil” does not apply evenly to Calvinism and Arminianism. In other words, in Calvinism, all “sin and evil” are good simply and solely because God decreed it; God derived it from no outside example, but conceived of it from His holy imagination. So to a Calvinist, “sin and evil” are good because it originates from God. Conversely in Arminianism, all “sin and evil” are conceived outside of God, independent of God (see Jeremiah 32:35 for instance), as God uses the “sin and evil” others to salvage good from the bad. The “bad” is not a “means to an end,” as it inherently is with Calvinism, but “bad” within Arminian thought is something that God works around, never intended, never desired, never wanted, and best of all, never needed. But in Calvinism, God absolutely does need it, and that’s a significant difference. God would have been just as blessed (and I would argue, far more), had Adam and Eve never fallen. Calvinists cannot say this. In Calvinism, God absolutely needs “sin and evil.” In Arminianism, “sin and evil” doesn’t stop God.